August 22, 2007 • By Ed Wrather
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. - 1 John 1:5-6.
Having a Medal of Honor winner speak to your church or to your church group could be seen as a great thing to do. Some of the groups that Terry J. Powell spoke at while wearing a Medal of Honor probably felt privileged to have him at their meetings. However, that will no longer be the case for those who know the truth that Powell’s claims regarding the Medal of Honor were false. Investigators believe that Powell’s stories about winning the medal, which vary, did not occur. The investigators also believe that certificates that he has for his medals (Powell has medals in addition to the Medal of Honor.) were altered. Powell is now facing a charge of unlawfully wearing the Medal of Honor in public. The penalty for this crime is up to a $100,000 fine and one year in prison. Terry J. Powell, however, is still adamant that he is a winner of the Medal and says that he will take a lie detector test to prove his claim.
Do you claim to be a Christian? Do you live like it? The little letter of First John is a good place to go if you want to really examine your walk with the Lord. John says, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” This means that there is no evil in God, only good, only light can be found in God. Then, the comparison is with our lives. “If we say,” meaning if we say we are Christians but “walk in darkness” meaning walk or live with evil in our lives than “we lie.” Seems simple enough does it not?
It is easy for us to condemn the false claims of someone like Terry J. Powell but it is a whole other thing to look at the possibility that we are guilty of making false claims. Do we present ourselves to the world around us as being perfect, as never sinning, as never being involved in anything of any evil nature? First John can be a painful little letter to prayerfully use to examine where you are in your Christian walk. Of course, we are not perfect. Of course, we are not completely free of evil in and of ourselves.
John addresses this issue of sin and our imperfection in 1 John 1:8 where he says very bluntly, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” The apostle Paul says much the same thing in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Most of us will readily admit that we are not perfect and that we have sinned. Most of us will also readily admit that we are an ongoing work of our Lord and that sometimes we still “fall short” of the perfection of God. The problem here is that so many of us present ourselves to the outside world as being perfect always walking in the light. The result is that the church is then seen as being filled with people who make false claims. Why would anyone want to be a part of a group people who lie? Not many.
When we talk with non-believers and those outside of the church, we should always be honest about our imperfections. We can then share what we do with those imperfections as the apostle John tells us in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Just to make sure we understand John says it one more time in 1 John 1:10, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” He says it one more time because we need to remember it and that the world is watching not just what we say but what we do.